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Mass. Dems Gather To Hear From Brown Challengers

This article is more than 12 years old.

Massachusetts Democrats are gathering in Lowell to map out their two top goals for the 2012 elections — reelecting President Obama and ousting Scott Brown.

Party Chairman John Walsh said the goals are connected.

The more voters the party can turn out for the Democratic president the better they believe their chances are of denying the Republican senator a full six-year term.

Before they can accomplish that second goal, Democrats have to decide which candidate they think has the best chance of defeating Brown, who remains popular with voters and is sitting on more than $8 million in his campaign account.

Six declared candidates — including Newton Mayor Setti Warren, City Year founder Alan Khazei and former lieutenant governor candidate Robert Massie — are planning to address Saturday's convention.

-- Gov. Deval Patrick spoke at the convention. Here are his remarks:

Good morning, Fellow Democrats. And thank you.

In 2005, in this very place, I first addressed you as a little-known candidate with big dreams for our Commonwealth. I asked for your ear, for your help, for your confidence and your vote – because I believed “Yes we can.” And one by one, you stepped forward and engaged — about your own dreams for the Commonwealth and what kind of community we could build together, about your own yearnings to change not just our policies, but our politics.

More than 6 years and two winning campaigns later, we come together again at this place. And I have a chance to say “thank you.” With your help and support, not only have we won elections, but our Commonwealth has weathered the economic and political storms better than most: today we are first in the Nation in student achievement, health care for our residents, clean and alternative energy initiatives, and veterans services. We are creating jobs faster than 46 other states and growing our state’s economy twice as fast as the Nation as a whole.

So, I start by saying thank you – to the teachers and state employees, to the health care workers and policy leaders, to the businessmen and -women, to the human service providers and public safety officers, to the ordinary people I meet with extraordinary ideas and commitment to make a better Commonwealth – thank you for giving Tim Murray and me the chance to bring Democratic values to the leadership of this Commonwealth, and for all the help you have provided to deliver those exceptional results.

We have much more to do, of course. But we are on the right track. It’s a track to a better tomorrow. And it is a very different track than Republicans want to travel. Coming into 2012, we had better be crystal clear about that.

After you cut through all their slogans, all that Republicans are saying is that if we just shrink government, cut spending, crush unions, and wait, all will be well. Not only has history repeatedly proven that wrong, they don’t actually believe any of it.

The same folks who say that government should be small and spending should be limited are responsible in the Bush administration for the biggest run up in the size of the federal government and the largest increase in the federal deficit in history.

The same folks who are attacking the principle of public sector collective bargaining today will make an exception for any union that endorses their candidate.

They don’t believe what they say.

The same folks who say religious fundamentalism is a danger abroad are busy promoting it at home.

The same folks who say stimulus investing in our infrastructure is wasteful were building roads and schools in Iraq in the last administration.

The same folks who say government should stay out of our private lives want to tell women whether to keep an unwanted pregnancy and to legislate whom you or I can marry.

National Republicans have abandoned any sense of balance or responsibility for our common future in order to win at all costs. And when you call them on it, they turn to bullying and belittling.

We Democrats need to be better than that. But that means more than having a strong argument for what we are against. We need to be clear about what we are for.

I am proud to be a Democrat, but sometimes Democrats get on my last nerve. After our special election last year, when a Republican won the seat long held by our beloved Ted Kennedy, Democrats here and all over America started acting like Chicken Little. We turned to either navel gazing or outright panic about our message and our policies. To me, the loss of the House to the Radical Right last fall was as much about a loss of our own self-confidence as it was about a loss of votes.

So, the bigger question is what do we believe? What are our core convictions? And are we willing to work for them?

We believe in equality, opportunity and fair play, bedrock principles that define not just what America does but who America is.

We believe government is about people, not abstract policy, that campaigns are about vision and values, not winning at any cost.

We believe in an economy that grows opportunity out to the marginalized, not just up to the well-connected.

We believe that we owe the next generation a better country than we found, not quick fixes that push the real solutions off to another day.

We believe that in good times and in crisis alike we should turn to each other, not on each other.

Well, if that’s what we believe, here’s my message, Democrats, plain and simple: if we want to win in 2012, if we want to recapture our second Senate seat and keep Barack Obama in the White House, if we want to earn the privilege to lead, it’s time for Democrats to grow a backbone and stand up for what we believe.

Because different convictions lead to different choices.

Their answer to growing deficits is to end Medicare, and push people off of their unemployment benefits, while protecting tax subsidies for Big Oil and billionaires. Ours is to help the innovation economy flourish, to help our workers prepare to participate in it, and to end special tax breaks for the powerful.

Their answer to failing public schools is to cut billions of dollars out of the education budget. Ours is to raise standards and expectations, and to support the single most significant determinant of a great education – a great teacher.

Their answer to health care is to stand on the sidelines and do nothing while your premiums go through the roof or your health insurance gets canceled when you need it most. Ours is to secure health care for every man, woman and child in America because health is a public good, and to bring your premiums down.

Their answer to reforming government is to bully unions and attack collective bargaining. Ours is challenge each other – with labor at the table — to make government smarter, more effective and more inclusive, knowing that government is simply “the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”

They think elections are about their party. We know elections are about our future.

Some of you may not support every choice we’ve made in Massachusetts. Some of our choices, and some of those facing our Nation, make even some of our traditional allies uncomfortable. But these times demand more than making each other comfortable. The times demand that we reconnect with our core convictions, and face up to the hard choices before us with candor and courage, because doing so today will make us stronger tomorrow.

For an awful lot of people in America today, the American Dream is up for grabs. People are questioning that simple defining notion that here in America they can make a better way for themselves and their families, the very notion that has made us the envy of the world. I am proud of the work we are doing to restore the American Dream in Massachusetts. But as a resident of our Commonwealth, as a Democrat, and as an American, I’m not yet satisfied. And you shouldn’t be satisfied either.

We can’t be satisfied until there are living wage jobs for every worker; good schools for every young person; affordable health care for every resident; peaceful neighborhoods for every family; and more. To get that, we know we need more equity in the tax code; more creativity in the classroom; more focus on the patient by the medical field; more stability on the streets and in the homes.

We can’t be satisfied by different policies alone. We can’t be satisfied until policy reflects our generational responsibility, our responsibility to leave this place better than we found it, to lift one another up rather than tear one another down.

Now is no time to be satisfied. Because there are real needs in real people’s lives at stake.

So, Democrats, quit waiting for the pundits to tell us who our next United States Senator is going to be. Stop blithely accepting that better economic indicators or better pollsters will determine who will win the presidency. Politics is not like the weather – we don’t have to wait for someone else to tell us whether it will rain or shine. In politics, we can shape our own future. That is precisely what we did together in 2006 and again last year here in Massachusetts. In 2012, let’s do it again.

We can do it if we reach down deep and remember why we are doing it.

Nothing I saw last summer in Iraq and Afghanistan was quite like the physical destruction I saw in the wake of the tornadoes that ripped through Hampden County this week. One couple I met was sitting on the front step of their home in Munson, which was all that was left. Another couple in Brimfield told me the story of huddling with their small child in the basement while the funnel passed over, carrying their house and all its contents away, tossing the granite countertop from their kitchen into a neighbor’s living room 50 yards away.

I heard story after story like this in scene after scene like these, always told by a grateful survivor — surrounded by neighbors. People who helped, who comforted, who sacrificed for their friends. Whatever their loss, they still had a community.

Sometimes in campaigns, people make it sound as if it is all about policy – how do we reduce the deficit, how do we create jobs, how do we support human services. For Democrats, what undergirds all that is what kind of community we are trying to build, what kind of Commonwealth and what kind of country do we want. That is why, when Republicans keep returning to their slogans, we need to keep returning to our values.

In 2012 and beyond, let’s do that – and not only will we win, but we will deserve to win. And then we can get on with building the loving community we know America is and must be, for ourselves and for a generation to come.

Thank you.

This program aired on June 4, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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